Zillow News – Popular real estate searching site Zillow mentioned on their blog yesterday the release of their database of shape files for boundary lines for 7000+ neighborhoods (apparently the neighborhoods – not the individual properties) around the US. The release is made in the form of SHP files and they are released under a Creative Commons license. According to some blogs, the license allows this: You are free to use the files in this database in applications as long as you attribute Zillow when you use it. You may also make your own changes to the database files and distribute them, as long as you provide them under the same kind of license and give Zillow attribution. I’m hoping this means someone will take the shape files and make them available as a dynamic network link in Google Earth. You can find the Zillow data here.
Virtual Volcanology – John Bailey of the Alaska Volcano Observatory (and one of the organizers of the AGU virtual earth sessions), was invited and gave a Google Tech Talk last month. His talk was titled: Virtual Volcanology – Exploring volcanoes in Google Earth. You can watch it now in YouTube. I particularly liked the short video he presented which starts about 42:00 into the talk.
Design in GE – Richard Treves of the University of Southampton in the UK has posted the presentation he gave at the AGU conference last month. His presentation makes a compelling case to put some thought into the basic design of your visualizations.
GearthHacks News – Gearthhacks.com has undergone some design changes. Mickey contacted me to let me know he has created a new tool called Yourmap to help churches create their own basic maps and embed their map on their web sites. It’s a mapping mashup of Google Maps like many others,but the difference is that it is geared toward simplicity and it also supports Google Earth output prominently.
VE Geocoding – Microsoft has blogged about an article in a Florida newspaper which did some tests of Virtual Earth’s geocoding capability compared to Google Maps. According to the newspaper in their tests Microsoft trounced Google by showing the proper location for addresses in 341 out of 400 cases. The newspaper says this clearly shows the superiority of Virtual Earth over Google Maps. However, as one reader pointed out in the comments: “Regarding geocoding accuracy: It’s not fair to do this in one small area. Both GE and VE often get their data from local vendors, and for this area Microsoft probably just happened to get the data from the best vendor, whereas as far as I can tell, GE just uses interpolated addresses along the street centerlines for this particular area. As with their aerial imagery in some areas one is better than the other, and vice-versa.” The Microsoft PR machine is in action. Here’s some other interesting posts in recent days touting Virtual Earth uses in areas mostly dominated by Google Earth or Maps already: Local news stations, MyWeather site, YellowPages.